The origin of pastrami remains a mystery. Most accounts will say that it was directly inspired by so-called pickled meat.Basturma, a lean cut of air-cured meat spread throughout Eastern Europe over the centuries by the Ottoman Empire and later brought to the Americas by Romanian-Jewish immigrants who arrivedbetween 1881 and 1914. There is no doubt that the wordPastramiit's related toBasturma, but that's where the similarity ends.
Unlike its thinly sliced, dried cousin, which is admirable in its own right, pastrami is made from remarkably fatty brisket that has been salted for several days (a process known as "corning").rubbed with a mixture of spiceswhich typically contains black pepper, yellow mustard seeds, and coriander and is then smoked. The result is a rich cut of meat with a complex and distinctive flavor where the smoky notes compete with the sweetness of the spices and the saltiness of the brine. Pastrami in its ideal form is fatty, pink, and spectacular when served hot and thickly sliced.
There are many conjectures about how evolution took place. My own crazy theory expounded in my bookNew York on a dozen records, is that kosher butchers operating in the Lone Star State around 1900 would take an unwanted cut of meat that even the military didn't buy, can it, rub it with familiar Central European spices, and cure it by smoking it, as well as barbecuing. from Texas was gaining popularity in the country. Originally run by Germans, Jews, and Gentiles, New York delis quickly learned the process and embraced it. For a time it became their exclusive province, even as Romanian-Jewish restaurants (of which Sammy's is the last remnant,but in danger, example) ignored this obviously American product and continued to serve steaks and chops.
Whatever the origin, pastrami remains the crown jewel of New York City's distinctive Jewish cuisine, admired by visitors from around the world. Modern times have seen a resurgence in its popularity and aexpanding its use, after a decline during the fat-free 90s. While the pandemic has shut down some wonderful providers, includingmijay y lloyds, many old places remain open and new places have sprung up. Here are my 10 favorite pastrami in ascending order of excellence.
10. Metal block
This Irish butcher and grocer selling packaged European goods in Sunnyside, Queens, is a neighborhood favorite, with a long counter famous for its hot sandwiches. Of course, corned beef, an Irish passion, is all the rage, but pastrami tastes even better when offered occasionally and sold cheap.43-46 41. Straße, Queens Boulevard, Sunnyside
Although Junior's fills its menu with things like Shrimp Parmigiana, Philly Cheesesteaks, and Rotisserie Chicken, it's still a Jewish deli that occupies a prime location near the entrance to Brooklyn's Manhattan Bridge. The cold cuts are much better than they should be, including a delicately flavored pastrami that can be ordered on a couple of delicious onion buns instead of cardboard rye.386 Flatbush Avenue Extension, na Fulton Street, centro de Brooklyn
8. Second Avenue Delhi
It was founded on Second Avenue in the East Village when that section was still known as Yiddish Broadway, but it eventually moved to its current location on Murray Hill. The pastrami is very good and the deepest shade of red but sliced too thin for my taste, but with the necessary fat that carries a lot of flavor. Second Avenue is one of the great historic delicatessens in the city.plagued with tragedybut still unbreakable.162 East 33rd Street, also Lexington and Third Avenues, Murray Hill
7. House of David's Breast
Located in downtown Bed-Stuy, this may be the only Jewish-style halal deli in town, and its sauce-soaked pastrami and brisket vie for its favor. The pastrami is spicier and smokier than most, and it's a real godsend that the sandwiches come in three sizes, from regular to stuffed.533 Nostrand Avenue, entre Herkimer Street y Herkimer Place, Bedford-Stuyvesant
6. Deli de Liebman
Just to the north, in idyllic Riverdale, is a long-standing Jewish restaurant, established in 1958 with a green Naugahyde sea to prove it. It's like the '50s never died. The pastrami is made locally and cut quite lean, and older, health-conscious diners like it that way. However, it is extremely tasty and you can't miss the fat.552 West 235th Street, between Oxford and Johnson avenues, Riverdale
Yes, this place was founded in 1964 by a real life police sergeant. His name was Abe Katz, which explains why there wasn't a more obvious nickname for him. The sandwiches here are perhaps the most hearty in the city and perhaps on the planet. The pastrami is sliced thin, but the product is delicious, and if you have a big appetite and find yourself in Midtown South, this is your place.583 Third Avenue, entrance at 36th and 37th Streets, Murray Hill
4. Frankel's Delicatessen & Apetitoso
When it opened a few years ago on a prominent gabled lot outside Williamsburg in Greenpoint, this place combined two traditional Jewish institutions, the meat deli and the fish-focused restaurant, much like Barney Greengrass before it. The pastrami here is pale pink, greasy, and beautifully hand-cut by carvers. Other than Katz's, this is the only place in town that I know of that does that.631 Manhattan Avenue and Bedford Avenue, Greenpoint
3. Pastrami Queen
Once upon a time, Pastrami King was located in Williamsburg, then went to Queens and finally to the Upper East Side, where he grabbed a shoebox from a place that's still there, in case you're in the neighborhood. But its new flagship is on the Upper West Side and offers pastrami that has wowed neighborhood residents—stacked high, bright pink, with a strong flavor when rubbed down and greasy enough to slide down with relish despite the extreme size. of the sandwich138 West 72nd Street, entre Columbus Avenue y Broadway, Upper West Side
2. Katz's Deli
Katz's has been a Lower East Side culinary beacon for 133 years, serving salami and pastrami. The pastrami here is widely considered the best in the country (although some prefer Langer's in Los Angeles or Zingerman's in Ann Arbor). For one, it's not only nice and greasy, if only a little smoky, but it's hand-carved by wizards who move around and over the smoking pink chest like Olympic skiers with their long, sharp knives.205 East Houston Street, na Ludlow Street, Lower East Side
1. Hometown Bar-B-Que industrial city
A Texas-style barbecue might not be where you'd look for great pastrami, even considering the possible historical connection mentioned in the introduction. Back when this offshoot of a Red Hook institution was still on the drawing board, it was envisioned as a cross between barbecue and New York deli, and the pastrami here is a holdover from that idea. This pastrami is spicy and oily, but its main difference is that the smoke isn't just an undertone, it's a main theme. Yes, this is currently New York's #1 pastrami, just barely beating out Katz's. Give it a try and see if you don't agree.87th 35th Street, also Second and Third Avenues, Sunset Park